The Lowest-Rated Cars And Trucks For Initial Quality

The Lowest-Rated Cars And Trucks For Initial Quality

Earlier this week the market research firm J.D. Power released the results of its 2018 U.S. Initial Quality Survey, which measures the number of problems reported during the first 90 days of new vehicle ownership. The study determined that new-vehicle quality overall improved for the fourth straight year, with three Korean brands – Genesis, Kia, and Hyundai – leading the rankings.

Automakers who received top marks in any of the survey’s 20 new-car, truck, and SUV segments are already touting their initial-quality awards in press releases and advertisements, and rightly so. But, and maybe this should go without saying, you won’t see mention of the study’s absolute bottom-feeders mentioned in any brand’s promotions.

Thus, in the name of fairness, we spent some time combing through the full results of J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Initial Quality Survey to determine which models suffer the lowest scores, both overall and for specific issues. The study examines 233 separate problems, with the results organized into eight categories: overall mechanical quality, powertrain mechanical quality, body/interior mechanical quality, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, body/interior design quality, and features/accessories design quality.

Vehicles are rated according to a five “power circle” system, and includes an overall quality rating. Five circles indicate a model that’s “among the best,” with four being “better than most,” and three as “about average.” The lowest score, which goes to “the rest” is two circles. We’re listing below the cars, trucks, and SUVs that received both an overall quality rating of two circles, and the most two-circle designations by category in their respective vehicle classes.

Some of models on this list may surprise you.

While five of the vehicles having rock-bottom initial-quality scores come from marques that otherwise boast above-average rankings – including Cadillac, Infiniti, Lincoln, Porsche, and Ram – the remaining come from automakers that were ranked below the norm. This includes three vehicles from Toyota and four from Acura/Honda, brands that are usually revered for building top-quality products.

Here’s the absolute underachievers in each category of the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Initial Quality Survey. A list of overall winners and full survey results for all model segments can be found here.

  • Midsize Pickup: Toyota Tacoma. The Tacoma receives its lowest marks in initial quality for overall quality, powertrain mechanical quality, overall design quality, and powertrain design quality; we should note, however, that the truck was rated a full five circles for overall mechanical quality, and body/interior mechanical quality.
  • Minivan: Honda Odyssey. This popular people-mover received two circles for overll quality, overall mechanical quality and body/Interior mechanical quality, but it did receive top marks for body and interior design quality.
  • Compact Car: Subaru Impreza. Scoring surprisingly low, the all-wheel-drive Impreza received two circles for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, powertrain mechanical quality, body/interior mechanical reliability, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, body/interior design quality, and features/accessories design quality.
  • Large Cars: Toyota Avalon. Another unexpected outcome, the big and bold Avalon received two circles for overall quality, overall design quality, body/interior design quality, and features/accessories design quality.
  • Compact Premium SUVs: (tie) Land Rover Range Rover Velar and Jaguar F Pace. No stunner here, as Land Rover and Jaguar were rated next-to-last and dead last, respectively, among all automakers in J.D. Power’s 2018 Initial Quality Survey. Both models were given two circles for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, powertrain mechanical quality, body/interior mechanical reliability, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, body/interior design quality, and features/accessories design quality.
  • Midsize SUV: Dodge Journey. The Journey has long been in need of a major redesign, and is eclipsed by most every model in its segment. It received two circles for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, powertrain mechanical quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, body/interior design quality, and features/accessories design quality.
  • Small Premium Car: Audi A3. An otherwise engaging little car, the A3 was cited for having poor overall quality, overall mechanical quality, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, body/interior design quality, and features/accessories design quality.
  • Small Premium SUV: Infiniti QX30. With the brand otherwise ranked as being above average in initial quality, the QX30 misses the mark across the board, receiving two circles for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, powertrain mechanical quality, body/interior mechanical quality, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, body/interior design quality, and features/accessories design quality.
  • Large Light Duty Pickups: (tie) GMC Sierra, Ram 1500, and Toyota Tundra. In what is a relatively small new-vehicle segment, all three of these big trucks get low marks for overall quality, and in three other two-circle-rated categories each.
  • Midsize Sporty Car: Chevrolet Camaro. Another sparsely-populated segment, the Camaro received two circles for overall quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, body/interior design quality, and features/accessories design quality.
  • Compact SUV: GMC Terrain. Though it’s mechanical relation, the Chevrolet Equinox. fares far better in the initial quality study, the Terrain gets two-circle scores in nearly all categories: overall quality, overall mechanical quality, body/interior mechanical quality, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, and body/interior design quality.
  • Small Car: Mitsubishi Mirage. This underachieving little car gets two circles for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, body/interior mechanical quality, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, and body/interior design quality.
  • Midsize Car: Honda Clarity. New this year, the Clarity is offered in pure electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell models, though the J.D. Power survey results doesn’t make the distinction between either configuration. Maybe it’s freshman jitters, but the Clarity gets two circles for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, and features/accessories design quality.
  • Large SUV: Chevrolet Suburban. Go figure - this behemoth’s corporate cousin, the GMC Yukon, gets higher scores virtually across the board, but the Suburban earns only two circles for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, body/interior mechanical quality, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, and body/interior design quality.
  • Large Premium Car: Porsche Panamera. Porsche is otherwise ranked the fourth highest brand for initial quality this year, though its big sedan falls short, earning two circles across the board for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, powertrain mechanical quality, body/interior mechanical quality, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, body/interior design quality, and features/accessories design quality.
  • Midsize Premium Car: Cadillac CTS. This is the lowest-scoring Caddy in this year’s report, earning low scores for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, body/interior mechanical quality, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, and body/interior design quality.
  • Midsize Premium SUV: Acura MDX. This is a bit of a shocker, with the well-regarded MDX earning only two circles each for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, features/accessories mechanical quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, and features/accessories design quality.
  • Small SUV: Honda HR-V. Another surprise, the amenable HR-V is ranked at the bottom of the burgeoning subcompact SUV segment, receiving two circles for overall quality, overall design quality, body/interior design quality, and features/accessories design quality.
  • Compact Premium Cars: (tie) Lincoln MKZ and Audi A4. The lowest-rated Lincoln earns two circles for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, powertrain mechanical quality, features/accessories mechanical quality, and body/interior design quality. The A4 gets two circles each for overall quality, powertrain mechanical quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, and body/interior design quality.
  • Large Heavy Duty Pickup: GMC Sierra HD. Another GMC model that scores considerably lower than its equivalent at Chevrolet, in this case the Silverado HD, the Sierra HD gets two circles for overall quality, overall mechanical quality, powertrain mechanical quality, body/interior mechanical quality, overall design quality, powertrain design quality, body/interior design quality, and features/accessories design quality. Could GMC owners be that much pickier about their rides than Chevy truck buyers?

The fine print: The 2018 U.S. Initial Quality Study is based on responses from 75,712 purchasers and lessees of new 2018 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study is based on a 233-question battery organized into eight vehicle categories designed to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate the identification of problems and drive product improvement. The study was fielded from February through May 2018. Be aware that the study tends to focus on mainstream models and excludes low-volume and exotic-brand vehicles.

Credit: Jim Gorzelany

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